In a research into grievance mechanisms in the electronics industry in 5 different countries SOMO found that very few workers have trust in the grievance mechanisms in their company. Most workers do not know how complaints are handled, and have limited knowledge about the different complaint channels. The high level of mistrust and the low percentage of satisfactorily resolved complaints demonstrate an overall poor performance regarding GM implementation.

In countries like China, India, Mexico, the Philippines and Thailand, workers in the electronics sector typically work under hazardous conditions and for long hours with little pay. When their rights are violated, workers are also often afraid to speak out due to fear of punishment or termination and it can be very difficult for them to access remedies. Grievance mechanisms are one way workers can improve their working situations and respect for their human rights, so it is very important that these mechanisms are functioning as they should.

The UN Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework and its companion instrument, the UN Guiding Principles, state companies have a responsibility to protect human rights. As part of this obligation, companies should provide access to remedies for individuals, workers and/or communities who may be impacted by their activities by establishing a grievance mechanism (GM) to handle complaints. In accordance with Principle 31 of the UN Guiding Principles, GMs should be legitimate, accessible, predictable, equitable, transparent, rights-compatible, a source of continuous learning and based on engagement and dialogue.

SOMO and its research partners in China, India, Mexico, the Philippines and Thailand set out to evaluate the functioning of factory-level GMs in the electronics sector. The researchers interviewed or surveyed 337 workers from 40 factories. They also contacted 56 factories—including those where workers were interviewed—to determine whether they have hotlines.

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